Cultural diffusion, the media

by Sebastian Benthall

The strangest thing about this New York Times article is not that it attempts to explain the punchline of the “Sudo make me a sandwich” xkcd comic, but that it fails to mention xkcd’s enormous pop culture hipster following, made up largely of people who don’t get the tech jokes, but who appreciate it for its more universal themes of romance, alienation, etc.

Mainstream media is slow to catch on to new trends. But maybe that’s because the dissemination of new concepts is slow, and major commercial news sources need to employ the popular conceptual lexicon. Perhaps there is no way to discuss a pop geek phenomenon in that dialect of mentalese.

Remember when the mainstream media entertained a meta-media debate about its own relationship with the emerging blogosphere a couple years ago? At the time one of the criticisms of the blogs was that they just regurgitated the news of big media without adding any new content. But now that blogs are mainstream enough for many news making organizations to have their own blogs, the situation has reversed. Often you can get the most cutting edge information about a topic by getting legible, accessible information published directly by its source.